If you are marketing and producing multi-species liners, make sure you have permission. Dömmen USA just received word it will soon be granted a utility patent on its Red Fox Confetti Garden multi-species cutting liners by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
A utility patent protects new inventions, permitting the patent owner to exclude others from making, selling or using the invention for up to 20 years from the date of application without expressed consent. The 20-year term of the patent will run from Dömmen’s utility patent application filing date of November 6, 2008.
This applies to multi-cutting liners with mixed species. An example would be a liner with verbena, petunia and calibrachoa cuttings rooted into a single growth cell. Same-species liners, like three different petunia cuttings rooted together, are not impacted. Rooted cuttings planted together would not be affected either.
What this means for growers and the livegoods supply chain is the multi-species liners must either be Dömmen USA product or licensed by Dömmen USA for use by other companies. Managing Director Perry Wismans is opening negotations with other suppliers of multi-species cutting liners to authorize any of their products covered by the utility patent. One goal in these negotiations is to not disrupt confirmed orders for spring 2011 or create extra costs for growers. Wismans can be reached at email@example.com.
“My goal is for nothing to change for the growers,” Wismans says. “We will charge a small licensing fee from breeder-producers out of the price confirmed so growers don’t hurt. In 2011, it’s important to me growers get what they ordered. We want to protect the legal status of product on the bench. After May has ended, we will negotiate licensing agreements. It’s not a decision we’ll be making in the upcoming weeks.”
The two competing programs that will be the most affected are Selecta’s Trixi Liners and Syngenta’s Kwik Kombos. We contacted representatives of both organizations. While Syngenta is reviewing the public records surrounding the patent application and evaluating its position, Selecta declined to comment at this time. Some liner growers also have multi-cutting programs, including Four Star Greenhouse’s Streamliners and Mast Young Plants’ Designer Liners. Through licensing agreements, Dömmen could receive royalties or fees for other product lines.
In the past, we’ve seen breeders pursue utility patents for unique varieties and breeding processes. Examples include Selecta’s MiniFamous Double calibrachoas and Oglevee’s Double Gem double New Guinea impatiens. Dömmen’s patent is for a process, a “method of producing a horticultural display,” according to USPTO documents. Many in the industry questioned if this process, rooting cuttings from different species into a single growth cell, could be patented. Articles published in Greenhouse Grower and other greenhouse floriculture industry trade publications were cited as proof of concept and significance in Dömmen’s USPTO application.